A group of UT students participated in the “Texas Stands with Gaza” protest of more than 3,000 at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday.
Saturday’s protest was the most recent of five events that have taken place at the Capitol during the summer. Jauzey Imam, a protester and UT student, said the protesters advocate that Israel leave the Gaza Strip.
“We’re joining protesters around the world in demanding that Israel end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and immediately cease its collective punishment of the Gaza Strip [that include] aerial bombardment, targeting of water and sewage infrastructure and deliberate strikes in residential areas,” said Imam, who is also a computer engineering and Plan II senior.
During Saturday’s event, protesters chanted, “Free, free Palestine. Occupation is a crime. Free, free Gaza.” Speakers spoke in front of the Capitol as protesters held signs, as well as the Palestinian, Texan and American flags.
Imam, a member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee student organization, worked on the rally organizing committee. The Palestine Solidarity Committee has worked with The Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights to organize the protests along with other groups.
“We’re also demanding that the U.S. government condemn and sanction Israel for its brutal acts of war against civilian populations and its expansion of settlements in direct violation of international law and, furthermore, withdraw its three to four billion dollars per year of aid to Israel,” Imam said.
Texans for Israel was contacted before Saturday’s protest and gave a statement through Tracy Frydberg, former president of Texans for Israel and a senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies and journalism.
“Israel is in Gaza to ensure that Hamas’ numerous sophisticated terror tunnels which lead to the front door of Israel’s homes and schools will not be used to kidnap civilians or commit acts of terror. In this process, Israel is using every means necessary to avoid civilian casualties. We mourn the tragic loss of life on both sides and hope for an end to the Hamas-instigated crisis.”
Texans for Israel is the largest UT pro-Israel student organization and was not present at the Capitol during the protests. On Friday, the organization’s leaders said they hope the protesters will also comment on Hamas’ actions.
Sofia Khan, a protester and social work graduate student, said Israel’s actions constitute genocide.
“For me, this is just genocide again,” Khan said. “This is a group of people living in their own country, and [Israel is] oppressing them, and they’re just trying to fight back.”
Biochemistry junior and protester Yasmeen Abu-Rezeq said at a July 16 protest that the conflict has affected her personally.
“I have family over there, and this is such a personal situation for me. People like my family are scared,” Abu-Rezeq said. “The killing needs to stop.”
Students on both sides of the issue said that UT students should be proactively educating themselves on the conflict.